Friday, December 11, 2015

Perfect Pie Crust for Any Occasion (gluten free, dairy free, vegan)


Pumpkin pie?  No problem.  How about a chicken pot pie?  Check.  Blueberry?  Apple?  Minced meat?  Yep, yep and um, sure why not. This pie crust is not only versatile (save a few ingredients between savory and sweet) the only way anyone will know that this is a gluten free, dairy free and vegan pie crust is if you tell them.  It is that good.  Forget those nasty cardboard tasting pie crusts that they sell at the store. You can actually enjoy this one!

For best results invest in a scale to measure the ingredients by grams. It is the most accurate and when baking gluten free, it is really important to have the right ratio of flours.

Please note: Always check labels and manufacturing processes to ensure there is no evidence of any food allergens you may be sensitive to.  

Sweet Pie Crust (gluten free, dairy free, vegan):
1/2 cup (63g) brown rice flour --I use Authentic Foods Superfine Brown Rice Flour - 3lb
1/4 cup (43g) white rice flour --I use Authentic Foods Superfine White Rice Flour - 3lb
1/4 cup (30g) quinoa flour --I use One 18 oz Ancient Harvest Quinoa Flour
1/2 cup (60g) tapioca flour --I use Bob's Red Mill Tapioca Flour - 20 oz
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons cane sugar --I use Florida Crystals Organic Cane Sugar - Jug - 48 Ounce
1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum--I use Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Xanthan Gum, 8-ounce 
1/2 cup unsalted shortening, room temperature -I use Spectrum Organic Shortening -- 24 oz
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
2 Tablespoons coconut milk --I use Native Forest Organic Classic Coconut Milk, 13.5-oz. Cans (Count of 12)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Up to 4 Tablespoons ice cold water

Makes one pie crust.

In a large mixing bowl combine the brown rice flour, white rice flour, quinoa flour, tapioca flour, salt, cane sugar, xanthan gum and cinnamon (if using).  Whisk together until all ingredients are blended well. 

Using a fork or knife "cut" the shortening into the flour mix to create a crumb mixture.  If using a fork and your shortening is soft, hold the fork sideways and cut through the mix like a knife as opposed to mashing. You can also use a pastry blender like a Cuisinart CTG-00-DB Dough Blender  if you have one handy.

Once you have your crumb mixture, add the lemon juice and coconut milk and continue to cut it into the dough.  Your crumbs should be getting larger but you should not have actual dough at this point.  Then add the cold water one tablespoon at a time until the crumb mixture starts to stick together into a ball.  It is important not to add too much water as your dough should be firm yet malleable. You can use your hands to form the dough into a ball.

Using wax paper or parchment paper, line a flat surface with it to roll out the dough. Form the dough into a disk and lay it in the center of the paper.  Cover the top with more wax/parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is about 1/8 inch thick.  Remove the top sheet of paper and flip your dough into the pie pan.  Alternatively, you can lay your pie pan face down in the center of the dough. Then with one hand on the pie pan and one hand under your dough, flip them over together.  Make sure the dough sits nicely in the pan and then shape the edges using your fingers or with a fork.  Voila!

I recommend freezing your pie crust and filling it while still frozen.  I have not had to pre-bake it before use and have only used it frozen.  I've made both a pumpkin pie and a chicken pot pie (double the recipe to make a top crust) and both have come out beautifully! 

For a savory crust simply omit the sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice and add 1 teaspoon of vinegar. I also use Earth Balance instead of palm shortening as it has salt in it and then I reduce the amount of salt to 1/8 teaspoon.









Saturday, November 7, 2015

Butternut Squash Soup (gluten free, dairy free, vegan option)



In my backyard there is not a doubt that fall is here.  We have a few very large deciduous trees and it seems as though the leaves decided to fall off all at once!  I have yet to start raking them all up.  I guess I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed.  What do I do when I'm overwhelmed? Make something in the kitchen!

I love this soup.  It is so rich yet light and goes nicely with just about any meal.  It's surprisingly not too difficult to make either, unless you don't own a blender.  Then that will be hard.  I got this recipe from a couple sites, one being the food network. The other from a fellow blogger. Of course I always do a bit of tweaking to suit my own tastes and needs.

This recipe yields 6-8 servings and is an easy way to impress family and friends with your culinary skills.  Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Soup: (gluten free, dairy free, vegan option)
1 butternut squash (about 3lbs)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 cups chicken stock (use vegetable stock for vegan)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup coconut milk --I like to use Native Forest Organic Classic Coconut Milk, 13.5-oz. Cans (Count of 12)
1 Tablespoon salt

Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds and peel off the skin. Then cut into small cubes about 1 inch across. In a large, deep pan on medium heat saute the olive oil and onion for a few minutes. Add the squash, chicken stock and only half the salt. Cook at a low boil for about 15-20 minutes or until the squash is tender. Then remove from heat.

Carefully scoop about half of the squash mixture into a blender and puree.  Pour out pureed mix into a large serving bowl or pan.  Puree the other half and add to the already pureed mix. Stir in the coconut milk* (*use less coconut milk if the soup already looks thin) and slowly add the ground nutmeg and remaining salt until preferred taste.

I like to top my soup with some type of garnish like a few roasted sunflower seeds, a pinch of brown sugar or just a simple sprig of parsley.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ghostly Mini Pumpkin Cupcakes! (gluten free, dairy free, vegan)



I've been racking my brain this week to try to make something festive for Halloween and then I remembered these cute little ghost cupcakes I made last year. They are not only perfect Halloween party treats, but they are soooo delicious!

Now I'm not one of those people who loves anything and everything pumpkin flavored but I do love a good pumpkin pie and of course, these little pumpkin cupcakes.  They are not overbearingly pumpkiny or spicey so even the most persnickety of kids will like them (my persnickety one certainly does).

This recipe can make up to about 54 mini cupcakes so if you don't need that many you can halve the ingredients. You can also make regular sized cupcakes but I find it is easier to make the ghosts when they are smaller. The directions below are for 48 mini cupcakes as most cupcake trays hold 24 mini cupcakes per tray.  There may be extra batter so you can add it to the 48 or heck, eat it raw!  It's vegan!

For best results invest in a scale to measure the ingredients by grams. It is the most accurate and when baking gluten free, it is really important to have the right ratio of flours.

Please note: Always check labels and manufacturing processes to ensure there is no evidence of any food allergens you may be sensitive to.  

Mini Pumpkin Cupcakes: (gluten free, dairy free, vegan)
3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons (98g) tapioca flour
2 1/2 Tablespoons (30g) potato starch
1 cup (130g) white rice flour
1/3 cup (42g) brown rice flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
6 Tablespoons (84g) vegetable shortening, melted (I use Earth Balance, organic)
1 cup (200g) cane sugar (use organic for vegan)
1/2 cup + 1/2 Tablespoon (50g) apple sauce
1/3 cup + 1/2 Tablespoon (85g) pumpkin puree (I usually use canned organic)
1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon (80g) maple syrup
2/3 cup (150g) coconut milk (I use Native Forest brand)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Line two mini cupcake trays (they should hold 24 cupcakes per tray) with mini cupcake liners (Halloween themed ones are best!). 


Melt the vegetable shortening in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or using a hand held mixer, combine the melted vegetable shortening, cane sugar, applesauce, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, coconut milk and apple cider vinegar in a large mixing bowl. Mix on low for about one minute. In a separate bowl whisk and combine the tapioca flour, potato starch, white rice flour, brown rice flour, salt, baking soda, xanthan gum, baking powder, cinnamon, ground cloves, and ground ginger. 

Add a couple of large scoops of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in the mixing bowl. Mix on low to medium until all of the dry ingredients have been incorporated then mix on high for about 20-30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula and mix on high for another 20-30 seconds. 


Scoop batter into the cupcake trays.  Make sure batter is evenly dispersed and comes to the top of each cupcake liner.   Place cupcake trays on middle rack in oven and bake for 16 minutes.  Then remove from oven and test the centers with a toothpick.  If batter sticks to the toothpick bake for an additional 2 minutes.  Retest with a new toothpick.  When the toothpick comes out clean the cupcakes are done.

Let cupcakes cool on cooling rack for a minimum of 20 minutes.  


Vanilla Frosting: (gluten free, dairy free, vegan)

1 cup (178g) vegetable shortening, room temperature (Spectrum Brand Palm Shortening)
3 3/4 cups (370g) powdered sugar (use organic for vegan)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup (50g) coconut milk (Native Forest brand)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Sift the powdered sugar using a sifter or with the blunt end of a butter knife through a metal mesh strainer. Combine the salt, vanilla extract and coconut milk in a small bowl and set aside. Place all of the vegetable shortening in a large mixing bowl and add one large scoop of powdered sugar. Using a stand mixer or hand held mixer, mix on low and slowly add half of the wet ingredients.  Continue to slowly add the powdered sugar along with the wet ingredients while scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Mix on low until the frosting is smooth. 


How to make cute little ghost toppers:  Fill a plastic pastry bag or large freezer bag with vanilla frosting and then cut the tip (or corner of freezer bag) about 1/2-3/4 " across. Make sure there is no air in the bag and then twist the opening of the bag closed causing the frosting to build up pressure and start coming out the tip.  For a video tutorial on how to frost the cupcakes click here and fast forward to 5:00 minutes.  The woman in the video uses a frosting tip which is helpful but I didn't have one on hand so went without. 

For the eyes and mouth I used Enjoy Life chocolate chips. 


Monday, October 19, 2015

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (gluten free, dairy free, vegan)


It has been a while since my last post and I do apologize.  Unfortunately, life can get in the way of baking, cooking and blog posts.  Since the beginning of summer I have moved, gone on vacation, successfully transitioned my son into kindergarten and had surgery. Needless to say I could not wait to get back into the kitchen and dust off my mixer.

These oatmeal raisin cookies are a favorite of mine as well as those who have indulged in their sweet, chewy yumminess.  They are great for packing in lunchboxes or for having as an afternoon snack (or even as a late night indulgence with a scoop of  your favorite dairy free ice cream!).

Please note: Always check labels and manufacturing processes to ensure there is no evidence of any food allergens you may be sensitive to.  

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (gluten free, dairy free, vegan):
1/2 Tablespoon ground flax meal
2 Tablespoons water
6 Tablespoons (84g) vegetable shortening (I use Earth Balance brand)
1 cup (150g) light brown sugar (use organic for vegan)
1/2 cup (60g) tapioca flour
1/3 cup + 1 1/2 Tablespoons (54g) brown rice flour (I use Authentic Foods brand)
1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon (40g) white rice flour (I use Authentic Foods brand)
1 1/4 cup (125g) certified gluten free rolled oats (I use Bob's Red Mill)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 Tablespoon coconut milk (I use Native Forest brand)
2/3 organic raisins


Combine the flax meal with the water in a small bowl and set aside. In a mixing bowl cream together the vegetable shortening with the light brown sugar by mixing on low for a few minutes. In a separate bowl combine the tapioca flour, brown rice flour, white rice flour, rolled oats, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and xanthan gum.  Whisk these dry ingredients together. 

Add the flax meal and water mixture to the creamed vegetable shortening and brown sugar mixture along with the coconut milk. Mix on low until fully combined. Then gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet.  

Mix on low until all the ingredients are fully incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.  It should look and feel just like cookie dough.  Finally, add the raisins and mix on low for about 15 seconds. Use a spoon or scoop to make round balls about 1-1 1/2 inches in size. Space cookie balls about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet.  Flatten each ball with the palm of your hand so they are the shape of cookies (they will not flatten much on their own during baking). 

Bake on the middle rack for 11 minutes or until cookies are easy to remove with a spatula.  If they are still soft bake for another 1-2 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and cool on a cooling rack. Makes about 25 cookies.




Thursday, August 13, 2015

Sparkling Limeade (gluten free, dairy free, vegan)


I had several limes in my fridge from when I made vinaigrette for my veggie rice wraps and not a lot of time on my hands to make anything really crazy.  So, I thought I'd make a refreshing summer drink.  Low and behold Sparkling Limeade was born!

I've never really used limes much in my recipes (except when baking fish....and things did not go so well.  I'll stick to using lemons for that) but after tasting the juice from them I want that tangy, sour, yet oddly sweet flavor in everything!  It's amazing what a different flavor they have from lemons. When I have more time (aka once the soon-to-be five year old is in school) I would love to attempt some lime desserts.  But for now, the limeade will have to do.

Please note: Always check labels and manufacturing processes to ensure there is no evidence of any food allergens you may be sensitive to.  

Sparkling Limeade (gluten free, dairy free, vegan):
1 cup sparkling water (I use San Pellegrino)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
1 Tablespoon cane sugar (use organic for vegan)*
1 sprig of mint (optional)
3-4 cubes of ice

*A sugar alternative/substitute may be used however the amount may vary.

Combine sparkling water, lime juice and sugar into an eight ounce drinking glass. Mix until most of the sugar has dissolved. Add a sprig of mint and some ice and enjoy! This could also be a great adult beverage by adding a shot of alcohol. I haven't actually tried this yet and am not a "mixologist" of any sort so feel free to experiment.



Sunday, July 19, 2015

Blueberry Scones (gluten free, dairy free, vegan)


First, let me apologize for basically falling off of the face of the earth for the last three weeks. A LOT has been going on in my life and as usual, I bit off more than I could chew.  I thought I could move and renovate my new house and then go on vacation while keeping my blog active.  Yeah right!  So since I am still in unpacking and renovating mode (and now my husband is gone for the week so on single parent mode) I thought I would at least post this recipe I did for another site called Safe Eats. Enjoy and I hope to be back in track with new exciting recipes soon...


I used to think that scones were these fancy treats one would only eat at elegant tea parties.  Come to find out they are basically sweet biscuits with some kind of fruit mixed in!  And they really are quite easy to make.  I also discovered that you don’t need to chill the vegetable shortening like you would with butter so it’s one less step than traditional scone making. No electric mixer is needed either.  It’s just good old fashioned baking by hand.

Please note: Always check labels and manufacturing processes to ensure there is no evidence of any food allergens you may be sensitive to.  

Blueberry Scones (gluten free, dairy free, vegan):
1/3 cup (62g) vegetable shortening, room temp. (I use Spectrum brand palm shortening)
½ teaspoon fresh lemon zest
½ cup (80g) white rice flour
½ cup (60g) tapioca flour
2 Tablespoons (24g) potato starch (you can also use an alternative flour like quinoa)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/3 cup (65g) cane sugar (use organic for vegan)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 cup (110g) fresh blueberries
1/3 cup  + 1 Tablespoon (100g) coconut milk (I use Native Forest brand)
1/8 cup turbinado sugar for topping (use organic for vegan)
1/8 cup white rice flour for handling dough and dusting
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line one standard size cookie sheet with parchment paper and dust lightly with a small amount of the 1/8 cup white rice flour.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the lemon zest, white rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, baking powder, cane sugar, salt and xanthan gum. 

Using a fork or knife "cut" the shortening into the flour mix to create a crumb mixture.  If using a fork and your shortening is soft, hold the fork sideways and cut through the mix like a knife as opposed to mashing.  Gently mix in the blueberries, then add the coconut milk and mix together until you have thick lumpy dough. There should be just enough moisture so the dough sticks together but not too much moisture, otherwise your scones will turn into muffin tops!

Lightly coat hands with white rice flour and divide dough into 8 parts.  I do this by measuring the entire amount of dough on a scale and then divide by 8.  Then use the scale to measure out each one and gently shape into small balls.  You could also form the dough into a round disk and cut into 8 wedges, but I’ve found when doing this the dough gets too compact and results in dense scones.  Or you can always eyeball it too.

Pour turbinado sugar on a small plate.  Push the tops of each scone into the sugar then place onto the cookie sheet, sugar side up.

Bake in the oven on the middle rack for 15-17 minutes, until bottoms are slightly brown.

Remove from oven and place onto a cooling rack.  Let cool for about 20-30 minutes.

A word on substitutions: Many gluten free flours can be substituted for others, such as quinoa, sorghum and millet. However, each flour has its own weight, texture, and viscosity. Therefore, it may alter the end result. Always use a combination of flours for best results. If substituting coconut milk with another dairy alternative start with half the recommended amount, as other dairy alternatives are thinner than coconut milk.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Lemon Sugar Cookies (gluten free, dairy free, vegan)


The month of June has been CRAZY! My family finally closed on a house and my husband and I are frantically working on several DIY projects before we move in at the end of this month. So, all I can do is dream about baking up delicious goodies to eat.  One of my fav's is this lemon sugar cookie recipe. It's so perfect for summertime parties, or to simply keep stock of in the freezer for a treat.

With these cookies I like to make fun shapes using a cookie press but you can also roll out the dough (after it has been chilled in the fridge for a bit) and use cookie cutters.  Or you can simply make little one inch balls and flatten them with the palm of your hand on the cookie sheet.  I like the cookie press because it saves me time from rolling and cutting and I still get cute little shapes. AND there's no chilling involved.  I will say though using a cookie press requires you to have rhythm.  Once it gets going you have to keep moving and if you don't press and move on at the right time you will get odd shaped cookies.  Once you do establish a rhythm it goes very quickly and you'll be eating these little sweeties toot suite!

Please note: Always check labels and manufacturing processes to ensure there is no evidence of any food allergens you may be sensitive to.  

Lemon Sugar Cookies (gluten free, dairy free, vegan):
1 Tablespoon flax meal
2 Tablespoons warm water
1/2 cup (60g) tapioca flour
1/2 cup (72g)) white rice flour
1/2 cup (70g) brown rice flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon zest (about 1-2 lemons)
6 Tablespoons (84g) vegetable shortening (I use Earth Balance Organic brand)
3/4 cup (145g) cane sugar (use organic for vegan)
1/2 Tablespoon Sprinkelz (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Set out one large clean cookie sheet. In a small bowl mix together the flax meal and warm water then set aside. In a stand mixer cream together the vegetable shortening and sugar by mixing on low with the paddle attachment for a few minutes. I usually let it mix while I am combining the dry ingredients.  In another bowl combine and whisk together the tapioca flour, brown rice flour, white rice flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and xanthan gum.

Add the flax meal and water, lemon juice and lemon zest to the creamed mixture.  Mix on low until combined. Then add the dry mix in two parts mixing on low until it turns into cookie dough. Stop to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed. If the dough is crumbly (this may happen in dryer climates) add 1 teaspoon of water and then mix to combine. Repeat if necessary.

With a cookie press or using cookie cutters (chill dough first) make small 1/4 inch thick cookies. Decorate with Sprinkelz. Bake in the oven on middle rack for 5 minutes or until you can easily remove the cookies with a spatula (they will be too soft if undercooked). Be cautious not to let them overcook as they brown easily and will no longer look so pretty.  Makes about 30 cookies.



Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Easy Rice Paper Wraps with Lime Vinaigrette (gluten free, dairy free, vegan)


I love vegetables. I really do. I especially love them when they are all wrapped up in a nice little roll with yummy lime vinaigrette to dip them in! These rice paper wraps are so easy to make and you can put just about anything in them.  I like to do what I call my version of a California Roll; fresh avocado with a sprig of cilantro along with carrots, cucumber, lettuce and scallions. They make a great snack or side with a nice summer meal.


The hardest part about this recipe is finding the rice paper wraps.  I thought I would have to search high and low for them. Luckily they were in my local Stop and Shop in the international section on the bottom shelf. Of course, Amazon almost always has whatever I can't find locally, so if you can't find them near you try Amazon.

Please note: Always check labels and manufacturing processes to ensure there is no evidence of any food allergens you may be sensitive to.  

California Roll Rice Paper Wraps: (gluten free, dairy free, vegan)
1 package rice paper wraps
2-4 leaves lettuce, shredded
1 medium cucumber
1 medium carrot
1-2 scallions, diced
1 small bunch fresh cilantro
1 avocado

Peel the skins off the carrot and cucumber then cut into thin horizontal strips, about 3-4 inches in length. Set aside about 8 sprigs of cilantro.  Cut the avocado lengthwise into thin slices. 

Fill a shallow pan with warm water. Pan should be wide enough to lay a piece of rice paper inside.  Lay a damp kitchen cloth on a clean surface and place the pan with water and cut vegetables next to this.  With clean dry hands delicately remove one rice paper sheet and place into the warm water for about 5-10 seconds.  Once the rice paper has started to soften, remove it from the pan and lay it onto the damp cloth.Then place about 2 avocado slices, 4 cucumber slices, 4 carrot slices, a sprig of cilantro, pinch of shallots and a bit of lettuce in the middle of the rice paper on top of one another.  Take one side of the rice paper and fold it over the vegetables.  Then fold the ends in and roll it up.  If you need a visual take a look at this video from Fifteen Spatulas.  She also has a great peanut dipping sauce recipe too.

Makes about 8 wraps.


Lime Vinaigrette: (gluten free, dairy free, vegan)
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 2-3 limes)
1 teaspoon tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil 

In a small bowl combine the lime juice, tamari, apple cider vinegar and maple syrup. Then slowly whisk in the the vegetable oil.  






Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Banana Bread (gluten free, dairy free, vegan)

 


I tend to eat a lot of bananas.  They are such a good snack to have around the house.  Unfortunately, I seem to be the only one who thinks this because I rarely see my husband or my son eating any of them.  Which, I guess is good for me (don't have to worry about someone else eating the last banana!) except I'm very particular about the ripeness of my bananas.  I only like to eat bananas that are slightly unripened with the stems still green.  Once they start to turn I don't like the taste.  Therefore, I end up with uneaten bananas. So what's a girl to do with leftover bananas? Make banana bread of course!

I make my quick breads in small USA mini loaf pans which gives them a better rise (the smaller the pan, the higher the rise).  This also allows me to keep one loaf for eating and another in the freezer for later.




Please note: Always check labels and manufacturing processes to ensure there is no evidence of any food allergens you may be sensitive to.  

Banana Bread Recipe (gluten free, dairy free, vegan):
1/3 cup (50g) white rice flour (I use Authentic Foods brand)
1/2 cup (60g) tapioca flour
2 Tablespoons (24g) potato starch (not flour)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
one ripe banana, peeled and mashed (105g)
1/3 cup  1 Tablespoon (90g) coconut milk (I use Native Forest brand)
3 Tablespoons (40g) vegetable shortening, melted or oil (I use Earth Balance brand)
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup (50g) cane sugar (use organic for vegan)
1/8 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Set out two USA mini loaf pans . In a bowl whisk together the white rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. In bowl of a stand mixer combine the banana, coconut milk, vegetable shortening, apple cider vinegar and cane sugar.  Mix on medium until fully combined.  Then add all of the dry ingredients to the wet and mix on medium and then high stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go.  Once completely combined add the walnuts.  Then mix on medium briefly until the walnuts are mixed in.  The batter should be like thick cake batter. 

Evenly scoop the batter into the two pans.  Then place pans in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the tops have browned.  Remove from the oven and turn out the loaves onto a cooling rack.  Let cool for about 30 minutes before slicing.

What's your favorite quick bread recipe? Let me know in the comments below.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Stuffed Grape Leaves (gluten free, dairy free, vegan)



I'm always searching for something that I can eat as a snack throughout the day and I easily get bored eating the same thing (don't we all).  So when I saw a jar of grape leaves in the grocery store I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them. Okay, well, not exactly, seeing as how I have never actually made stuffed grape leaves before but I had a vision.  The internet is filled with recipes for stuffed grape leaves so I got a general idea and then came up with my own version.

There was one common thing I noticed in my recipe search. They all required the rice to be al dente when making the filling.  I don't know about you but my experience with rice is that if I don't cook it exactly according to the packaging directions something ultimately goes wrong.  So, I played it safe and cooked it how I always do (by the book!) and I did not notice anything odd with the end results. I think it might even be a little easier this way too.

I would recommend something to drizzle on top like my Lemon Vinaigrette. It kicks things up a notch!

Please note: Always check labels and manufacturing processes to ensure there is no evidence of any food allergens you may be sensitive to. 

Stuffed Grape Leaves (gluten free, dairy free, vegan):
1 cup uncooked rice
1/2 onion, diced
2 Tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
2 cups vegetable stock (can also use water or chicken stock)
1/4 cup ground almonds
1 lemon
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 jar grape leaves
salt

On medium heat, sautee the onion, olive oil and a dash of salt for a couple minutes until the onion becomes translucent.  Then add the vegetable stock and rice.  Let it come to a boil then reduce to simmer, cover and cook according to the rice packaging directions.

While the rice is cooking prepare a clean surface for filling the grape leaves.  Juice the lemon and strain it. Once the rice is cooked remove from the heat and add the dill, mint, almonds and lemon juice. Mix together and add salt to taste. Set aside and let cool.

Prepare a pot for steaming with a steamer basket inside and a lid. Or use a  metal colander that fits inside a larger pot. If you do not have pots for steaming, you can simmer instead.

Gently separate the small grape leaves from the large ones.You will need about 25 leaves of each size (I double wrap to prevent filling from escaping).  Lay out one small grape leaf, shiny side down. Add one spoonful of rice filling to the center of the leaf.  Wrap the filling as if you are wrapping a present starting with the stem ends first. Then lay out one large grape leaf, shiny side down and place the stuffed grape leaf in the center with the seam facing down. Wrap again. Place the stuffed grape leaf in the bottom of the steamer seam-side down (or in pot with a small amount of water/stock and olive oil). Repeat this process until you run out of rice filling (or grape leaves...whichever comes first!).  Cover and steam (or simmer on low) for about 30 minutes.  Let cool to the touch, then drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice and enjoy!  Better yet, whip up some Lemon Vinaigrette to go with!

Makes about 25 stuffed grape leaves.





Questions? Comments? Recipe ideas?  I'd love to hear from you!


Lemon Vinaigrette (gluten free, dairy free, vegan)



This recipe is an ode to one of my most favorite restaurants that I used to go to when I lived in California.

Sol Food Restaurant started out as a tiny little spot on the corner of Fourth and Lincoln in downtown San Rafael.  From the day it opened there was constantly a line out the door. At first sight one would think it was because the restaurant was so small but once you had the food, you knew the real reason.

Now the restaurant has taken over a new spot just a couple blocks away from their old one and they have an additional location just a few towns over.  Even though there are now two locations, there is still usually a line out the door!  It's THAT good! AND they have several gluten free and dairy free options!

The food is actually quite simple fare, but the flavor is not.  You are truly eating wholesome authentic Puerto Rican comfort food.  My favorite dish is the "Pollo Al Horno".  It's chicken thighs marinated in oregano and garlic, fried garlic plantains, beans and rice with green olives and potatoes with a fresh picked organic mixed green salad with lemon vinaigrette dressing. Salivating yet? I sure am. And don't get me started on the ambience either. You'll think you are IN Puerto Rico! If you don't believe me check out their website for a virtual visit.  The bongo drum will get you going.

I'm in the process of trying to reinvent my own version of my favorite dish in order to survive here on the east coast. I will, of course, post it once I have. In the mean time I can relish in the memory of Sol Food by making my lemon vinaigrette dressing.


Please note: Always check labels and manufacturing processes to ensure there is no evidence of any food allergens you may be sensitive to. 

Lemon Vinaigrette (gluten free, dairy free, vegan):
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 2 medium lemons)
1/4 teaspoon crushed garlic
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/8 teaspoon salt

In a small blender combine the lemon juice, crushed garlic, salt and vegetable oil.  Puree on high for about 20 seconds.  Voila!  If you do not have a blender handy combine all the ingredients except the oil in a small mixing bowl.  Slowly pour the oil into the mix while whisking vigorously.





Friday, May 22, 2015

Strawberry Shortcake (gluten free, dairy free, vegan)


This recipe was a bit more difficult than I had anticipated.  How hard can strawberry shortcake be to make? Well, if you're making it gluten free and dairy free, it can be tricky. And if you have a four year old who loves strawberries this can make it almost impossible.

My son devours so much fruit we call him The Fruit Bat. The first day I brought home two pounds of those beautiful red berries and by day two there was only a handful left.  By the end of the week I had gone through four pounds of strawberries!  Even still, this was not the most difficult part. It was the cake. The cake needed to be juuuuust right. Not too hard like a scone but not too spongy like an angel food cake. Luckily, my third attempt hit the jackpot.

My favorite part? The coconut whipped cream. I could eat that stuff all day! No, really I could.

Strawberry Shortcake (gluten free, dairy free, vegan):
Coconut Whipped Cream Recipe
16 ounces fresh strawberries
1 large lemon (for both the juice and making zest)
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (from the lemon listed above)
1/3 cup (62g) vegetable shortening (I use Spectrum brand palm shortening)
1/2 cup (80g) white rice flour (I use Authentic Foods brand)
1/2 cup (60g) tapioca flour
1/3 cup (65g) cane sugar (use organic for vegan) plus more for strawberries
2 Tablespoons (24g) potato starch (not potato flour)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon finely ground flax meal
2 Tablespoons applesauce
1/2 cup (130g) coconut milk (I use Native Forest brand)

Makes six cakes. This is all done by hand so no mixing machines needed!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a standard cookie sheet with parchment paper or grease and dust with flour.

For the strawberry mix, wash the strawberries, cut the tops off and slice into bite size pieces, then put into a bowl. Zest the lemon in a separate small bowl and set aside.  Once zested, cut the lemon in half and then squeeze the juice into another bowl. Pour the lemon juice through a strainer on top of the strawberries.  Also add about two tablespoons (or more) of cane sugar to the strawberries and mix together.  Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

In a large bowl combine the white rice flour, tapioca flour, cane sugar, potato starch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground flax meal and lemon zest.  Whisk together so it is completely combined.

In a separate bowl mix together the applesauce with the coconut milk.

Using a fork or knife "cut" the shortening into the flour mix to create a crumb mix.  If using a fork and your shortening is soft, hold the fork sideways and cut through the mix like a knife as opposed to mashing.  Then add the coconut milk/applesauce mixture and mix together until you have a thick lumpy batter.

With a scooper or large spoon, scoop out six mounds onto the cookie sheet.  If you have English muffin rings place one around each mound. This will give them a more uniform look.

Bake in the oven on middle rack for 8-10 minutes. Then check with a toothpick to ensure they are done (no batter should stick to the toothpick). If done remove from oven and let cool for about 20 minutes. If not done bake for another 2 minutes and check again.

Once cooled, layer your cake with the whipped cream and strawberries.  There's really no wrong way to do it although my husband tells me that the juice from the strawberries is very important as it soaks into the cake ever so nicely.  I say just eat and enjoy!

Questions or comments?  Please reply in the comments section below.  I'd love to hear from you!










Coconut Whipped Cream (gluten free, dairy free, vegan)


I just had to give this recipe it's own post because it is soooooo good it deserves it.  This is a super easy recipe especially for such a creamy delicacy!  The hardest part is having to wait to chill the can of coconut milk so there is some planning involved.  The brand of coconut milk I use is absolutely the best (believe me I've tried the others).  I use Native Forest brand, not the light version either.  You want as much fat as possible.

This needs to be chilled in the back of your refrigerator anywhere from three to seven days depending on the type of climate you live in (hotter climates longer, colder climates, shorter).  All the fat needs to separate from the liquid.


Please note: Always check labels and manufacturing processes to ensure there is no evidence of any food allergens you may be sensitive to. 

Coconut Whipped Cream (gluten free, dairy free, vegan) 
1  can (13.5 ounces) Native Forest brand coconut milk (full fat)
3 Tablespoons powdered sugar (use organic for vegan)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum (optional)

Strain the liquid from the can of coconut milk.  In chilled stand mixer with the whisk attachment, add the remaining fat from the can of coconut milk and vanilla extract.  In a separate bowl sift the powdered sugar with the xanthan gum. Then add to the coconut milk and vanilla extract mix.  Whisk on medium until the powdered sugar has incorporated into the coconut milk,  stopping to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula. Then mix on high for another twenty seconds or so.  Place in refrigerator to chill for about ten minutes or more before using. Once chilled scoop out and top your favorite desserts.

Let me know if you try this recipe in the comments section below.  I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Easy Peasy Pesto! (gluten free, dairy free, vegan)


When I first stopped eating dairy I was at a total loss.  I thought cheese and I would be together forever, enveloped in casseroles, stretching inside lasagna, crumbled on top of salads.... but alas, my gut kept telling me no more.  I won't lie.  It was a hard transition.  It's still not always easy even now, but I've learned to move on.  Especially now that I've discovered I don't even need cheese in many recipes like with this pesto recipe.  That's right. I've said it out loud.  I DON'T NEED YOU ANYMORE, CHEESE!

This pesto recipe is super easy and simple.  All you need is about 5 ingredients and a blender.  If you don't have a blender, no worries. You  can still combine all the ingredients, it will just not be a pureed version of it, but it will still taste like pesto.

This can easily be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks or so.  Although, it only lasts about a week in my house because I use it all up.  I just cant' get enough of the stuff!

Please note: Always check labels and manufacturing processes to ensure there is no evidence of any food allergens you may be sensitive to. 

Pesto (gluten free, dairy free, vegan):
2 oz basil, washed and de-stemmed
1 clove garlic, crushed or minced
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup walnut pieces (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil

In a blender combine the basil, garlic, salt, walnuts and olive oil.  Puree on high until it is a smooth mixture. Add more salt to taste.

If you do not have a blender, finely chop the basil (and garlic too if you do not have a garlic press). Crush the walnut pieces with a mortar and pestle, coffee grinder, or a knife.  In a small bowl mix the basil, garlic, salt, walnuts and olive oil.  Add more salt to taste.

Add pesto to pastas, wraps, chicken, you name it!  Pesto is great on pizza too! Check out my pizza recipe for details.



Have you tried this recipe?  Do you have one of your own?  I'd love to hear from you!  Just add your two cents in the comments section below.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Gluten Free, Dairy Free Orange Creamsicles (Vegan)


I came across this recipe on one of the many facebook groups that I belong to and as soon as I saw it I wanted to make it!  As a kid there was something special about orange creamsicles that made everything right in the world.  I think because there really is no other taste quite like it.  I mean, orange and cream? Who thought of that one?  Genius I tell ya. And I just so happened to have a popsicle maker that was given to me by a good friend of mine (thanks Bryan). So now I am able to put it to good use.

This modified recipe comes from the Super Healthy Kids Blog. I love recipes that only have a handful of ingredients and no cooking or baking is involved.  It is truly sweet and simple.


Please note: Always check labels and manufacturing processes to ensure there is no evidence of any food allergens you may be sensitive to. 

Orange "Creamsicles":
1 cup coconut milk (Native Forest brand)
1/4 banana (optional)
2 oranges, peeled and sectioned
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


Peel and section the oranges and put them in the freezer for about 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes combine the oranges, banana, coconut milk and vanilla bean paste (or extract) in a blender and puree. Fill up popsicle maker, ice cube trays with toothpicks (cover with plastic wrap then poke through with toothpicks), or just fill a tupperware container and then freeze it for a couple of hours or more. 

Enjoy a nice cool treat!



Friday, May 8, 2015

Gluten Free, Dairy Free Chocolate Cupcakes (vegan)


So in honor of Mother's Day I thought I'd post an additional recipe this week just in case anyone out there wanted to bake up something sweet for their gluten free, dairy free and/or vegan mom (or for yourself even....I won't tell anyone).

This chocolate cake is my all time favorite cake.  I don't know if it's the pure cocoa powder that I use or the creamy decadent frosting that makes it so special.  Or it could be that I just LOVE chocolate. The best part (at least in my opinion) about this cake is that it's really not that bad for you healthwise.  I use brown rice and quinoa flours and I really try not to overuse sugar in whatever form. So not only is it deliciously decadent but it's guilt free too!  It doesn't get any better than that for a Mother's Day treat!

There are specific brands of ingredients mentioned below that I find are the absolute best (and must haves) for gluten and dairy free baking.  Other brands may result in a different taste, texture and density. I shop for most of my ingredients on Amazon.com since these are not commonly found in local stores.

CHOCOLATE CAKE: (gluten free, dairy free, vegan)
1 cup (115g) tapioca flour
1/3 cup (30g) quinoa flour
3/4 cup (50g) pure cocoa powder, sifted
3/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon (95g) brown rice flour (Authentic Foods brand)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 Tablespoons (94g) vegetable shortening, melted (Earth Balance brand)
3/4 cup (125g) light brown sugar
1 cup (225g) applesauce
3/4 cup (150g) maple syrup
1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon (85g) coconut milk (Native Forest brand)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Makes 18 cupcakes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two twelve count cupcake tins with 18 cupcake liners. 

Melt the vegetable shortening in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Using a stand mixer or hand held mixer combine the melted vegetable shortening, light brown sugar, applesauce, maple syrup, coconut milk and apple cider vinegar. In a separate bowl combine and whisk the tapioca flour, quinoa flour, cocoa powder (sifted first), brown rice flour, salt, baking soda, xanthan gum and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in two parts.  Mix on low until all the dry ingredients have been combined with the wet, then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix on high for 30 seconds or until all the ingredients are fully incorporated. Evenly scoop batter into lined cupcake tins. An ice cream scoop works for this.

Place in the oven on middle rack and bake for 16-18 minutes. Then test the centers of the cupcakes with a dry toothpick.  If it comes out clean they are done, if not then bake for another 2 minutes.  Repeat this until the toothpick comes out clean. Once baked remove the cupcakes from the tins and place onto a cooling rack.

Once cooled frost and enjoy!

For the vanilla frosting recipe and for instructions on how to bake a double layer round cake see my red velvet recipe




CHOCOLATE FROSTING: (gluten free, dairy free, vegan)
1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon (105g) vegetable shortening (Spectrum brand palm shortening)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup + 1/3 cup (75g) pure cocoa powder
1/2 cup (108g) coconut milk (Native Forest brand)
3 cups + 1 Tablespoon (315g) powdered sugar, sifted (use organic for vegan)

Combine the salt and coconut milk in a small bowl and set aside. Sift the powdered sugar using a sifter or with the blunt end of a butter knife through a strainer. Do the same for the cocoa powder and mix with the powdered sugar.  Place all of the vegetable shortening in a large mixing bowl. Using a stand mixer or hand held mixer (or the old fashioned way--by hand), mix on low and slowly add half of the wet ingredients.  Then slowly add the combined cocoa powder and sugar one scoop at a time. Expect a mess as the cocoa powder and sugar tend to take flight! Use the cover guard if using a Kitchenaid mixer. Continue to slowly add all the ingredients while mixing on low, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Mix on low until the frosting is smooth. 


Questions? Comments?  I'd love to hear from you...







Monday, May 4, 2015

Gluten Free, Dairy Free Homemade Pizza Crust (vegan)


I love pizza.  But who doesn't right? It's actually considered the world's most popular food and for those of us who can't eat gluten this can be very depressing. Especially when we discover that most gluten free pizza crusts lack the flavor and texture that traditional glutenous crusts have. Well, this crust is definitely not lacking in flavor or that nice chewy texture and reminds me of when my mom used to make homemade pizza for my sisters and I pre anti-gluten days.

If you don't have one already, I highly recommend getting a stand mixer.   This dough requires some hefty kneading that really only a stand mixer can do.  One of those artisan Kitchenaid mixers works wonders. However, I have kneaded this by hand and it is still possible to make this crust.
 
I recommend using certain brands of flour which I believe produce the best results as far as taste and texture. One in particular is Zocalo Peru organic sweet potato flour.  The sweet potato flour is my secret ingredient in this recipe. It gives the crust a nice chew and retains moisture well. There are other brands of sweet potato flour out there but I have not tried them so let me know if you do! I am always interested in hearing what other folks use in their recipes.

For a regular thin crust pizza I use a 13 inch round pizza pan. You can also use a standard cookie sheet.  It takes up about 3/4 of the sheet depending on how thin you want it.   I have tried a pizza stone in the past but was not successful. The pizza ended up sticking to it. But I am no expert in pizza stones so....




Please note: Always check labels and manufacturing processes to ensure there is no evidence of any food allergens you may be sensitive to. 

 Homemade Pizza Crust: (gluten free, dairy free, vegan)
3/4 cup (90g) tapioca flour
3/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon (98g) brown rice flour (Authentic Foods brand)
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons (84g) white rice flour (Authentic Foods brand)
1/4 cup (32g) sweet potato flour (Zocalo Peru organic brand)
2 Tablespoons (25g) cane sugar*
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 1/4 teaspoons or 1 packet rapid rise instant yeast (Fleischmann's)
2 Tablespoons canola/vegetable oil plus extra
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup warm water
1-2 Tablespoons corn meal for dusting
1 teaspoon gluten free flour of choice for dusting

*You can substitute the cane sugar with maple syrup for a less refined source. Just reduce the amount of water you add.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Grease a 13 inch round pizza pan or standard cookie sheet and dust with flour and corn meal. 

Combine the yeast, apple cider vinegar, oil and water in a bowl and set aside to allow the yeast to hydrate.  In a large mixing bowl combine the tapioca flour, brown rice flour, white rice flour, sweet potato flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and xanthan gum. 

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix on low (use the paddle attachment for Kitchenaid mixers then once combined, switch to the dough hook to knead). Once the dry ingredients have combined with the wet, scrape down the sides and mix on low for three minutes.

After three minutes lightly oil hands and start to shape the dough into a flat disc. Lay the dough onto the prepared pizza pan and flatten from the middle out using the palm of your hand.  You can also use a rolling pin.  Leave the edges thick for the crust.  Loosely cover the dough with wax paper and place in the oven to rise for 25 minutes. Turn off the oven while it is rising. 

After 25 minutes remove the dough from the oven and place it on the stove top or draft free counter top still covered. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Once the oven comes to temperature remove the wax paper from the dough, spritz the edges with water (optional-prevents cracking), and place the dough on the bottom rack.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Then remove from the oven and let cool for about ten minutes. Once cooled coat the edges with oil (I like to use olive oil for this). Now it's ready for toppings. Once toppings are added place back into the oven on the middle rack and bake for about 10-12 minutes. For a crisp crust bake directly on oven rack.

Recipe for Pizza Toppings:
2 1/2 ounces precooked breakfast sausage (omit for vegan)
3-4 ounces Daiya brand imitation mozzarella shreds
4 Tablespoons tomato sauce or dairy free pesto 
6 ounces spinach, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
salt 

In a bowl, mix the garlic, spinach, olive oil and salt. Evenly spread a thin layer of tomato sauce or dairy free pesto onto the pizza crust. Then add the spinach mix, sausage and Daiya "cheese".  Bake in the oven on the middle rack for 10-12 minutes at 400 degrees. 



For those of you with a discerning eye, you may have noticed that the upper left side of the pizza in this picture has browned a bit.  Well, unfortunately I have to share my pizza so I usually make one portion of it with dairy for my son and husband. Regular dairy cheese will brown whereas the Daiya imitation cheese does not. Mystery solved!